Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Neurobehavioral Disorders Among Children in the United States

From the Abstract:
Objectives: The association between parent-reported postnatal secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in the home and neurobehavioral disorders (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, and conduct disorders) among children younger than 12 years in the United States was examined using the 2007 National Survey on Children's Health. Excess neurobehavioral disorders attributable to secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in the home in 2007 were further investigated.

Source: Pediatrics

Download pdf of "Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Neurobehavioral Disorders Among Children in the United States"

Link to online abstract at Pediatrics

Links Between Obesity and Addiction

Researchers have made great progress identifying the brain circuits involved in eating and appetite in the last decade. Now, with the increasing prevalence of obesity, much of that focus has shifted to studying unhealthy eating behaviors.

Recent research suggests a convergence between obesity and drug addiction. During a press conference at Neuroscience 2010, neuroscientists presented leading research that explores the overlap between the two. Session moderator Ralph DiLeone of Yale University School of Medicine noted both food and drugs have the ability to impart long-lasting — and potentially devastating — cellular and behavioral changes in people.

Source: Neuroscience Quarterly

Link to online article: "Links Between Obesity and Addiction"

The Toll of the Great Recession

The Pew Research report provides the first look at how the Great Recession impacted household wealth. It finds that plummeting house values were the principal cause of the erosion in wealth among all groups. However, because Hispanics derived nearly two-thirds of their net worth in 2005 from home equity and a disproportionate share reside in states that were in the vanguard of the housing meltdown, Hispanics were hit hardest by the housing market downturn.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download complete pdf report "The Toll of the Great Recession"

Link to online executive summary at Pew Research Center

Graduate and First-Professional Students: Who They Are and How They Pay for Their Education

This Statistics in Brief focuses on graduate and first-professional students, exploring the types of programs in which they are enrolled, costs associated with those programs, and how those costs are financed via aid and work.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download pdf publication of "Graduate and First-Professional Students: Who They Are and How They Pay for Their Education"

Link to record at NCES

Optogenetic disruption of sleep continuity impairs memory consolidation

Memory consolidation has been proposed as a function of sleep. However, sleep is a complex phenomenon characterized by several features including duration, intensity, and continuity. Sleep continuity is disrupted in different neurological and psychiatric conditions, many of which are accompanied by memory deficits. This finding has raised the question of whether the continuity of sleep is important for memory consolidation. However, current techniques used in sleep research cannot manipulate a single sleep feature while maintaining the others constant. Here, we introduce the use of optogenetics to investigate the role of sleep continuity in memory consolidation. We optogenetically targeted hypocretin/orexin neurons, which play a key role in arousal processes. We used optogenetics to activate these neurons at different intervals in behaving mice and were able to fragment sleep without affecting its overall amount or intensity. Fragmenting sleep after the learning phase of the novel object recognition (NOR) task significantly decreased the performance of mice on the subsequent day, but memory was unaffected if the average duration of sleep episodes was maintained at 62–73% of normal. These findings demonstrate the use of optogenetic activation of arousal-related nuclei as a way to systematically manipulate a specific feature of sleep. We conclude that regardless of the total amount of sleep or sleep intensity, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Download pdf of "Optogenetic disruption of sleep continuity impairs memory consolidation"

Link to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Monday, July 25, 2011

Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates

This report describes the enrollment and employment experiences of a national sample of college graduates one year after their 2007-08 graduation.

Data presented include education financing; postbaccalaureate enrollment; student loan repayment; and employment, particularly employment in teaching.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download pdf of : Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:08/09): A First Look at Recent College Graduates

Link to NCES

Children’s Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences

This theoretical article views children’s risky play from an evolutionary perspective, addressing specific evolutionary functions and especially the anti-phobic effects of risky play. According to the non-associative theory, a contemporary approach to the etiology of anxiety, children develop fears of certain stimuli (e.g., heights and strangers) that protect them from situations they are not mature enough to cope with, naturally through infancy. Risky play is a set of motivated behaviors that both provide the child with an exhilarating positive emotion and expose the child to the stimuli they previously have feared. As the child’s coping skills improve, these situations and stimuli may be mastered and no longer be feared. Thus fear caused by maturational and age relevant natural inhibition is reduced as the child experiences a motivating thrilling activation, while learning to master age adequate challenges. It is concluded that risky play may have evolved due to this anti-phobic effect in normal child development, and it is suggested that we may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.

Source: Journal of Evolutionary Psychology

Download pdf of Children's Risky Play form an Evolutionary Perspective

Link to Evolutionary Psychology Website

With a Little Help from My (Random) Friends: Success and Failure in Post-Business School Entrepreneurship

To what extent do peers affect our occupational choices? This question has been of particular interest in the context of entrepreneurship and policies to create a favorable environment for entry. Such influences, however, are hard to identify empirically. We exploit the assignment of students into business school sections that have varying numbers of classmates with prior entrepreneurial experience. We find that the presence of entrepreneurial peers strongly predicts subsequent entrepreneurship rates of students without an entrepreneurial background, but in a more complex way than the literature has previously suggested: A higher share of entrepreneurial peers leads to lower rather than higher subsequent rates of entrepreneurship. However, the decrease in entrepreneurship is entirely driven by a significant reduction in unsuccessful entrepreneurial ventures. The effect on the rate of successful post-MBA entrepreneurs, instead, is insignificantly positive. In addition, sections with few prior entrepreneurs have a considerably higher variance in their rates of unsuccessful entrepreneurs. The results are consistent with intra-section learning, where the close ties between section-mates lead to insights about the merits of business plans.

Source: Harvard Business School Faculty Working Papers

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Link to Harvard Business School Working Papers

Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes

Since the onset of Title IX, opportunities have dramatically increased for female athletes, largely to their benefit. However, some negative health outcomes such as disordered eating, chronic menstrual disturbances and low bone mass have been associated with high-level competition among some female athletes, particularly in sports such as gymnastics and cross-country running, where a slender physique or lean body build is important. Adolescent female athletes, in a rapid growth and development phase, may be at greatest risk. We sought to identify athletes at risk, understand the origin of possible negative outcomes and recommend behavioral modifications that promote participation in competitive sports while supporting lifetime health. This review discusses the development and impact of disordered eating and menstrual dysfunction on bone mass in young, competitive, female athletes and provides nutrition recommendations for their energy, carbohydrate, protein, vitamin and mineral intake.

Source: University of California Office of the President

Download pdf of Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes

Link to online abstract of "Proper nutrition can prevent negative health outcomes in young female athletes"

Psychopathology, trauma and delinquency: subtypes of aggression and their relevance for understanding young offenders

From the Abstract:
Objective To examine the implications of an ontology of aggressive behavior which divides aggression into reactive, affective, defensive, impulsive (RADI) or "emotionally hot"; and planned, instrumental, predatory (PIP) or "emotionally cold." Recent epidemiological, criminological, clinical and neuroscience studies converge to support a connection between emotional and trauma related psychopathology and disturbances in the emotions, self-regulation and aggressive behavior which has important implications for diagnosis and treatment, especially for delinquent populations.

Source: University of California, Berkeley

Download full pdf document: Psychopathology, trauma and delinquency

Link to online abstract at eScholarship repository

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

College students and technology

From the Overview

By every key measurement, college students lead the way in tech and gadget use. But community college students do not use digital tools as much as four-year college students and graduate students.

The data in this report come from Pew Internet Project surveys conducted throughout 2010, which were bundled together to collect a statistically meaningful population of those who said they attended community college, four-year schools, and graduate schools. For more information about the samples, please see the Methodology section at the end of this report.

Source: Pew internet and American life project

View the entire Pew Internet "College students and technology" report online

Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span

From the Press Release:
People with personality traits of high neuroticism and low conscientiousness are likely to go through cycles of gaining and losing weight throughout their lives, according to an examination of 50 years of data in a study published by the American Psychological Association.

Impulsivity was the strongest predictor of who would be overweight, the researchers found. Study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 lbs. more than those in the bottom 10 percent, according to the study

Source: American Psychological Association

Download pdf of Personality and Obesity Across the Adult Life Span

Link to APA Press release summary

The Nation's Report Card: Geography

Nationally representative samples of about 7,000 fourth-graders, 9,500 eighth-graders, and 10,000 twelfth-graders participated in the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in geography. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of geography in the context of space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to the results from previous assessments in 1994 and 2001 shows how students’ knowledge and skills in geography have changed over time.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Download full pdf of The Nation's Report Card: Geography

Link to the Nation's Report Card Geography website

Monday, July 18, 2011

Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update - The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

From the introduction:
Family support is critical to remaining in one’s home and in the community, but often comes at substantial costs to caregivers themselves, to their families, and to society. If family caregivers were no longer available, the economic cost to the U.S. health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS) systems would increase astronomically.

This Insight on the Issues, part of the Valuing the Invaluable series on the economic value of family caregiving, updates national and individual state estimates of the economic value of family caregiving using the most current available data. In 2009, about 42.1 million family caregivers in the U.S. provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year.

The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $450 billion in 2009, up from an estimated $375 billion in 2007. The report also explains the contributions of family caregivers, details the costs and consequences of providing family care, and provides policy recommendations to better support caregiving families.

Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

Download full pdf report : Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update - The Growing Contributions and Costs of Family Caregiving

Link to introduction and other supporting documents at AARP Public Policy Institute

What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions

From the Executive Summary:
This study examined the emphasis hiring managers placed on general mental ability (GMA) and personality—agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion—when evaluating applicant profiles for servers for a national restaurant chain. GMA was framed as either “intelligence” or the “ability to learn and solve problems.” Under both conditions, GMA was valued, but less than agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, even though GMA has been demonstrated to be the strongest predictor of employee performance. Framed as the “ability to learn and solve problems,” GMA was more highly valued, but still less than personality.

Source: Cornell Hospitality Quarterly (Cornell School of Hotel Administration)

Download pdf : What Matters Most? The Perceived Importance of Ability and Personality for Hiring Decisions (free registration required)

Link to Cornell Hospitality Quarterly Online

Telework 2011: A Special Report from WorldatWork

From the Introduction
Technology companies have been predicting that telework — performing work from home or another remote location — soon will become the most common mode of work for American workers. (Lister 2010; Scheid 2009) And while some assert that technology alone will make this possible (Diana, A. 2010), barriers remain for both employers and employees that have more to do with psychology than technology.

This special report provides a view of telework from both the employee and the employer perspec- tives, and creates a useful picture of how telework is playing out in the United States today.

Source: WorldatWork [via Knowledge@Wharton]

Download pdf : Telework 2011: A Special Report from WorldatWork

Related: Commentary from Knowledge@Wharton

Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis

Authored by Kenneth V. Lanning and produced in cooperation with the FBI, the fifth edition of this book is an investigative tool for law-enforcement officers and child-protection professionals handling cases of children who are sexually exploited. It provides investigative strategies, the characteristics of a pedophile, and the difficulties often encountered in cases of sexual exploitation. It introduces a typology that places sex offenders on a continuum, from preferential to situational, and combines the information from the previous editions of this title with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's former publication titled Child Sex Rings: A Behavioral Analysis. 212 pp.

Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Download full pdf of Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis for Professional Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children

Link to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households

Despite the recent flood of foreclosures on residential mortgages, little is known about what happens to borrowers and their households after their mortgage has been foreclosed. We study the post-foreclosure experience of U.S. households using a unique dataset based on the credit reports of a large panel of individuals to from 1999 to 2010. Although foreclosure considerably raises the probability of moving, the majority of post-foreclosure migrants do not end up in substantially less desirable neighborhoods or more crowded living conditions. These results suggest that, on average, foreclosure does not impose an economic burden large enough to severely reduce housing consumption.

Source: Federal Reserve Board

Download full pdf report: The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households

Link to online abstract at the Federal Reserve Board

The Mexican-American Boom: Births Overtake Immigration

From Overview:
Births have surpassed immigration as the main driver of the dynamic growth in the U.S. Hispanic population. This new trend is especially evident among the largest of all Hispanic groups-Mexican-Americans, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.

In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals. This is a change from the previous two decades when the number of new immigrants either matched or exceeded the number of births.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download pdf report: The Mexican-American Boom: Births Overtake Immigration

Link to online overview at Pew Hispanic Center

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Event Detection in Twitter

Twitter, as a form of social media, is fast emerging in recent years. Users are using Twitter to report real-life events. This paper focuses on detecting those events by analyzing the text stream in Twitter. Although event detection has long been a research topic, the characteristics of Twitter make it a non- trivial task. Tweets reporting such events are usually overwhelmed by high flood of meaningless "babbles". Moreover, event detection algorithm needs to be scalable given the sheer amount of tweets. This paper attempts to tackle these challenges with EDCoW (Event Detection with Clustering of Wavelet-based Signals). EDCoW builds signals for individual words by applying wavelet analysis on the frequency-based raw signals of the words. It then filters away the trivial words by looking at their corresponding signal auto- correlations. The remaining words are then clustered to form events with a modularity-based graph partitioning technique. Experimental studies show promising result of EDCoW. We also present the design of a proof-of-concept system, which was used to analyze netizens' online discussion about Singapore General Election 2011.

Source: HP Labs Technical Reports

Download full pdf report : Event Detection in Twitter | Link to online abstract at HP

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Resource Brief No. 4 | National Academy Database, Art from British Museums, Harry Potter’s World

The impact of the Internet on the brain

This publication aims to highlight what the field of neuroscience can tell us about the implications of using interactive technologies on young people’s brains, behaviours and attitudes. It brings together the latest research from this emerging area, not only to understand its implications, but to recognize the limitations of the existing evidence. By doing so, we hope to highlight what is known about ‘safe uses’ of interactive technologies, but also what is not known, i.e. what cannot be claimed or needs to be researched in more detail. If we are to develop effective and safe practices that use digital technologies, we need to be clear about the evidence that we build upon and ask more nuanced questions to determine where future research should be focused.

Source: Nominet Trust

Download pdf of The impact of the Internet on the brain | Link to online summary at Nominet Trust

Two Years of Economic Recovery: Women Lose Jobs, Men Find Them

From the Summary:

The recovery from the Great Recession is not off to a good start for women. From June 2009, when the recession ended, to May 2011, women have lost 218,000 jobs, with their employment level falling from 65.1 million to 64.9 million. Men, however, are finding new jobs in the recovery. Their employment level increased from 65.4 million in June 2009 to 66.1 million in May 2011, a gain of 768,000 jobs. Since 1970, this is the first two-year period into an economic recovery in which women have lost jobs even as men have gained them.

The contrasting trends for men and women in the recovery are reopening the gender gap in employment. At the start of the recession, in December 2007, men held 3.4 million more jobs than women. In the recession, job losses for men were more severe than for women and by the end, in June 2009, men held only 223,000 more jobs than women. This gap stretched out to 1.2 million in May 2011, two years into the economic recovery.

Source: Pew Research Center

Download full report - Employment in the Recovery
| Link to Pew Research Center Summary

The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (updated)

From the Summary:
Total debt of the federal government can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it. Total federal debt outstanding was $14,344 billion on June 29, 2011. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced that the federal debt reached its statutory limit on May 16, 2011, and that he had declared a debt issuance suspension period, allowing certain extraordinary measures to extend Treasury’s borrowing capacity until early August 2011. Since May 16, debt subject to limit has been held just below $14,294 billion. Funding federal operations could soon become complicated without a debt limit increase. A bill (H.R. 1954) to raise the debt limit to $16.7 trillion was introduced on May 24 and was defeated in a May 31, 2011, House vote

Source: Congressional Research Service

Download pdf of The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases

Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2011 - City rankings

Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the second year running, according to Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey. Tokyo remains in second position and N'Djamena in Chad in third place. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. Zurich jumps one position to rank seventh, while Hong Kong drops down to ninth.

New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from 11, and São Paolo (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city, and the survey found that Luanda, in top place, is more than three times as costly as Karachi. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices.

Down one place from last year, London (18) is the UK’s most expensive city, followed by Aberdeen (144), Glasgow (148) and Birmingham (150). Belfast (178) is ranked as the UK’s least expensive city.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expatriates – plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked.

Source: Mercer

Link to Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2011 - City rankings list

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CEO Compensation and Corporate Risk-Taking: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Our paper sheds new light on the theoretically ambiguous effect of stock options on managerial incentives for risk-taking by analyzing how equity-based incentives affect firms’ responses to an unanticipated and exogenous increase in risk. The particular risk we study is an increase in liability and regulatory risk arising from workers’ exposure to newly identified carcinogens. We find that compensation contracts with high sensitivity to stock prices, low sensitivity to volatility, and options that are deep in-the-money reduce managers’ risk-taking incentives after risk increases. While options increase compensation’s sensitivity to both stock prices and volatility, on net, they encourage risk taking in our setting. We find that variation in managerial stock and option holdings causes meaningful differences in corporate decisions. Our findings underline the importance of corporate boards structuring and maintaining compensation plans properly in order to achieve their desired corporate strategy.

Source: Social Science Resource Network [via Knowledge@Wharton]

Download pdf publication | Link to SSRN Abstract

Economic Development in Africa Report 2011

From the Highlight summary:
The Economic Development in Africa Report (EDAR) 2011 examines the status of industrial development in Africa with a focus on the identification of "stylized facts" associated with African manufacturing. It also provides an analysis of past attempts at promoting industrial development in the region and the lessons learned from these experiences. Furthermore, it offers policy recommendations on how to foster industrial development in Africa in the new global environment characterized by changing international trade rules, growing influence of industrial powers from the South, the internationalization of production, and increasing concerns about climate change.

The Report argues that a new industrial policy is needed to induce structural transformation and engender development in African economies.

The Report advocates a strategic approach to industrial policy-making which is based on an industrial diagnosis and proposes a framework for industrial strategy design which takes account of the heterogeneity of African economies and is also tailored to country-specific circumstances.

Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Download full pdf publication
| Link to UNCTAD

Intimacy, Manipulation, and the Maintenance of Social Boundaries at San Quentin Prison

San Quentin is an infamous prison in US history, the subject of myths, cautionary tales, and cable network specials. And yet ask the men living inside its walls, and they will insist San Quentin is the best place to do time in California. Beginning in the mid-1990s, San Quentin’s gates were opened to volunteers from the San Francisco Bay Area interested in providing educational and therapeutic programs. The implementation of these programs disrupted the routines and norms governing social relations within San Quentin and provided a rich window into the daily operation of the prison as it responds to pressure. In this paper, I identify and analyze three narratives which surface in the official discourse used by institutional actors to describe the prison environment and compare these narratives with observations of daily life behind San Quentin’s walls. Ultimately, I argue that in contrast to popular portrayals of prisons, which depict prisoners and officers as locked in depraved and antagonistic relationship patterns, the very structure of San Quentin, and perhaps prisons more generally, is highly conducive to the development of intimate bonds between these groups.

Source: ISSC Fellows Working Papers, Institute for the Study of Social Change, UC Berkeley [via eScholarship repository]

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online abstract at eScholarship repository

Monday, July 11, 2011

Supplier Responses to Wal-Mart's Invasion of Mexico

This paper examines the effect of Wal-Mart's entry into Mexico on Mexican manufacturers of consumer goods. Guided by firm interviews that suggested substantial heterogeneity across firms in how they responded to Wal-Mart's entry, we develop a dynamic industry model in which firms decide whether to sell their products through Walmex (short for Wal-Mart de Mexico), or use traditional retailers. Walmex provides access to a larger market, but it puts continuous pressure on its suppliers to improve their product's appeal, and it forces them to accept relatively low prices relative to product appeal. Simulations of the model show that the arrival of Walmex separates potential suppliers into two groups. Those with relatively high-appeal products choose Walmex as their retailer, whereas those with lower appeal products do not. For the industry as a whole, the model predicts that the associated market share reallocations, adjustments in innovative effort, and exit patterns increase productivity and the rate of innovation. These predictions accord well with the results from our firm interviews. The model's predictions are also supported by establishment-level panel data that characterize Mexican producers' domestic sales, investments, and productivity gains in regions with differing levels of Walmex presence during the years 1994 to 2002.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Gender Law Library

The Gender Law Library is a collection of national legal provisions impacting women's economic status in 183 economies. The database facilitates comparative analysis of legislation, serves as a resource for research, and contributes to reforms that can enhance women’s full economic participation. We update the collection regularly but do not guarantee that laws are the most recent version, nor is the library exhaustive.

The materials are generally organized into categories including geographic region, income level grouping, legal topic, and type of law. Categories may be accessed individually or via a selection of a combination thereof. The more efficient manner by which to access materials, however, is through six unique indicators located on the left side of the homepage. The indicators were deliberately designed by the database creators to organize its contents in a more practical manner. They group the laws according to women’s legal abilities in the following categories: “accessing institutions,” “using property,” “getting a job,” “dealing with taxes,” “building credit,” and “going to court.” Selecting a single indicator will in turn create a list of more narrow topics from which to choose. Ultimately, all queries are conducted through a selection of indicators and categories; no search feature is available for entering customized search terms. As a result, some browsing may be necessary to locate a specific document, but the system is very efficient overall. Materials are typically provided in searchable PDF documents, but occasionally the database links the researcher to an outside website.

Source: World Bank [via Cornell Law Library]

Link to online database.

Friday, July 08, 2011

America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011 is a compendium of indicators depicting both the promises and the challenges confronting our Nation's young people. The report, the 15th in an ongoing series, presents 41 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are drawn from our most reliable statistics, are easily understood by broad audiences, are objectively based on substantial research, are balanced so that no single area of children's lives dominates the report, are measured regularly so that they can be updated to show trends over time, and are representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group.

Seventeen years ago, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) joined with six other Federal agencies to create the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. Formally chartered in April 1997 through Executive Order No. 13045, the Forum's mission is to develop priorities for collecting enhanced data on children and youth, improve the communication of information on the status of children to the policy community and the general public, and produce more complete data on children at the Federal, state, and local levels. Today the Forum, which now has participants from 22 Federal agencies and partners in several private research organizations, fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of Federal efforts to collect and report data on children and families and calls attention to needs for new data about them.

Source: Childstats.gov

Download full pdf publication
| Link to ChildStats.gov

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Structural and Cultural Dynamics of Neighborhood Violence

Considerable attention has given to identifying the neighborhood-level structural and social-interactional mechanisms which influence an array of social outcomes such as crime, educational attainment, collective action, mortality, and morbidity. Cultural mechanisms are often overlooked in quantitative studies of neighborhood effects, largely because of outdated notions of culture. This study explores the origins of legal cynicism, as well as the consequences of cynicism for neighborhood violence. Legal cynicism refers to a cultural frame in which people perceive the “law” as illegitimate, unresponsive, and ill-equipped to ensure public safety. Four objectives are addressed: 1) The correlates of legal cynicism. 2) The cross-sectional relationship between neighborhood violence and legal cynicism, as well as the relationship between neighborhood violence and tolerant attitudes toward violence and deviant behavior. 3) If legal cynicism predicts the change in neighborhood violence over time, net of changes to the structural conditions of a given neighborhood. 4) If legal cynicism makes all types of violence more likely or just certain forms, we compare whether the neighborhood predictors of gang versus non-gang homicide are the same. Findings reveal that tolerant attitudes toward deviance and violence have little bearing on neighborhood rates of violence. Legal cynicism, however, has both a near-term and enduring influence on violence, net of neighborhood structural characteristics and social processes such as collective efficacy. Neighborhood culture is a powerful determinant of neighborhood violence, and partially accounts for why rates of violence remained stable (and even increased) in some Chicago neighborhoods during the 1990s despite declines in poverty and drastic declines in violence city-wide. Findings also indicate that cynicism of the law has a general effect on violence, and that collective efficacy substantially mediates the association between legal cynicism and homicide. Legal cynicism undermines the collective efficacy that is vital to the social control of neighborhood violence.

Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service

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| Link to online abstract

New Research Shows More Low-Income Young Adults Begin Their Higher Education Experience at For-Profit Colleges

While attention from policymakers, higher education leaders, nonprofit groups, and the business community remains focused on college completion and loan debt, where students start their studies in large part determines the likelihood of completing a degree program and chances of facing long-term financial distress. In a new brief, Portraits: Initial College Attendance of Low-Income Young Adults, experts at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) suggest that poverty still matters a great deal in terms of the types of institutions at which young adults are initially enrolling. In particular, they find that low-income students—between ages 18 and 26 and whose total household income is near or below the federal poverty level—are likely to be overrepresented at for-profit institutions and are likely to be underrepresented at public and private nonprofit four-year institutions.

According to the brief, from 2000 to 2008, the percentage of low-income students enrolling at for-profits increased from 13 percent to 19 percent, while the percentage enrolling in public four-year institutions declined from 20 percent to 15 percent. Portraits also includes facts pointing to the significant differences by race and gender as low-income females on the whole were twice as likely as low-income males to start at a for-profit institution. For example, data from the brief show that more Black and Hispanic females from low-income backgrounds started at for-profit institutions than at both public and private four-year institutions combined.

Source: Institute for higher education policy

Download full pdf publication | Link to online abstract

Republican Candidates Stir Little Enthusiasm

From the online overview:
The emerging Republican presidential field draws tepid ratings. Just a quarter of voters (25%) have an excellent or good impression of the possible GOP candidates, and a separate survey conducted jointly with The Washington Post finds that negative descriptions of the field far outnumber positive ones. Asked for a single word to describe the GOP field, the top response is “unimpressed.”

Source: Pew Research center for people and the press

Related post:

Are Republicans Ready Now for a Mormon President?

Download full pdf publication
| Download pdf questionnaire

Class Size: What Research Says and What it Means for State Policy

Class size is one of the small number of variables in American K-12 education that are both thought to influence student learning and are subject to legislative action. Legislative mandates on maximum class size have been very popular at the state level. In recent decades, at least 24 states have mandated or incentivized class-size reduction (CSR).

The current fiscal environment has forced states and districts to rethink their CSR policies given the high cost of maintaining small classes. For example, increasing the pupil/teacher ratio in the U.S. by one student would save at least $12 billion per year in teacher salary costs alone, which is roughly equivalent to the outlays of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal government’s largest single K-12 education program.

The substantial expenditures required to sustain smaller classes are justified by the belief that smaller classes increase student learning. We examine “what the research says” about whether class-size reduction has a positive impact on student learning and, if it does, by how much, for whom, and under what circumstances. Despite there being a large literature on class-size effects on academic achievement, only a few studies are of high enough quality and sufficiently relevant to be given credence as a basis for legislative action.

Source: Brookings Institution

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For the Public’s Health: Revitalizing Law and Policy to Meet New Challenges

At the request of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the IOM reviewed how statutes and regulations prevent injury and disease, save lives, and improve the health of the population. The IOM examined the legal and regulatory authority for public health activities, identified past efforts to develop model public health legislation, and described the implications of the changing social and policy context for public health laws and regulations. The IOM finds that public health law, much of which was enacted in different eras when communicable diseases were the primary population health threats, warrant systematic review and revision. In addition, the IOM urges government agencies to familiarize themselves with the public health and policy interventions at their disposal that can influence behavior and more importantly change conditions—social, economic, and environmental—to improve health. Lastly, the IOM encourages government and private sector stakeholders to consider health in a wide range of policies and to evaluate the health effects and costs of major legislation.

This report is part of a three-part series requested by RWJF to address major topics in public health. Collectively, the series will offer guideposts on the journey to becoming a healthier nation.

Source: Institute of Medicine, the National Academies

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Women of Tomorrow: A Study of Women Around the World

Women control the majority of purchasing decisions in a household and their influence is growing. Women across the world are expanding beyond traditional roles to influence decisions in the home, in business and in politics. Marketers have a massive opportunity to better connect women with the products they buy and the media technologies they use to make a positive impact both in their lives and in the bottom line.

So what traditional and new media influencers are most successful in driving women’s purchase decisions? Do women in developed countries think and act differently than women in emerging countries? What concerns do women have now and what do they expect for future generations? Do traditional roles still exist or do men and women share responsibilities? Importantly, how can marketers not only reach women more effectively, but how can they create messaging that better speaks to the sentiments and emotions that drive and empower women?

To answer these questions, Nielsen surveyed women across generations and from all corners of both developed and emerging economies. Reaching out to 21 countries representing 78 percent of GDP, this study provides insight into how current and future generations of female consumers shop and use media differently. The findings are both enlightening and surprising. One universal truth prevails: women everywhere believe their roles are changing and they are changing for the better

Source: Nielsen Media

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Exploration of Retirement Planning Attitudes and Behavior

In the fall of 2010, the CRR sponsored a series of qualitative interviews with consumers on a range of retirement issues. The objective was to explore consumers’ attitudes and behavior toward retirement planning, including knowledge gaps, sources of information, and unmet needs. A total of 70 individuals aged 50-65 were interviewed in three cities (Hartford, Cincinnati, and Phoenix). This report summarizes the interview results.

Source: Financial Security Project at Boston College (Center for Retirement Research)

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The future of death in America

Population mortality forecasts are widely used for allocating public health expenditures, setting research priorities, and evaluating the viability of public pensions, private pensions, and health care financing systems. Although we know a great deal about patterns in and causes of mortality, most forecasts are still based on simple linear extrapolations that ignore covariates and other prior information. We adapt a Bayesian hierarchical forecasting model capable of including more known health and demographic information than has previously been possible. This leads to the first age- and sex-specific forecasts of American mortality that simultaneously incorporate, in a formal statistical model, the effects of the recent rapid increase in obesity, the steady decline in tobacco consumption, and the well known patterns of smooth mortality age profiles and time trends. Formally including new information in forecasts can matter a great deal. For example, we estimate an increase in male life expectancy at birth from 76.2 years in 2010 to 79.9 years in 2030, which is 1.8 years greater than the U.S. Social Security Administration projection and 1.5 years more than U.S. Census projection. For females, we estimate more modest gains in life expectancy at birth over the next twenty years from 80.5 years to 81.9 years, which is virtually identical to the Social Security Administration projection and 2.0 years less than U.S. Census projections. We show that these patterns are also likely to greatly affect the aging American population structure. We offer an easy-to-use approach so that researchers can include other sources of information and potentially improve on our forecasts too.

Source: Max-Planck institute for demographic research

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Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2011 User Comparative Database Report

Based on data from 1,032 U.S. hospitals, the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture: 2011 User Comparative Database Report provides initial results that hospitals can use to compare their patient safety culture to other U.S. hospitals. In addition, the 2011 report presents results showing change over time for 512 hospitals that submitted data more than once. The report consists of a narrative description of the findings and four appendixes, presenting data by hospital characteristics and respondent characteristics for the database hospitals overall and separately for the 512 trending hospitals.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

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Emerging forms of entrepreneurship

The current policy and public debate on the overall topic of ‘entrepreneurship’ pays little attention to more specific or emerging forms of entrepreneurship such as one-person enterprises and self-employment, part-time entrepreneurs, parallel and serial entrepreneurs, and business transfer and successions. This study examines the appearance of these distinct catgeories in public and policy discussions across Europe and gives an overview of the availability of quantitative and qualitative statistical information and of research on emerging forms of entrepreneurship.This study notes that the category of one-person enterprises and self-employment is the one most often included in the debate, whereas the other forms of emerging entrepreneurship receive less attention. However, across Europe growing attention is paid to all these forms as drivers for growth and employment, and they are being recognised as flexible forms that offer a transitional state between employment and business development.

The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the ERM correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The reports have not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Source: EuroFound
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